Apple Nixes Republican Candidate's iPhone App

He denied that the app's statements about Waxman are defamatory. "It was not defamatory, it was true, famously true. Waxman is famous for getting healthcare passed, and promoting the Cap & Trade bill. If we're just saying things that are known facts within the media, for Apple to call that speech defamatory is looking at it from a very biased perspective."

David's experience is just the latest example of problems with App Store filtering. The process is broken. Apple can take several routes to fix it.

Apple could throw the iPhone open to all developers, as the Mac is now. In this scenario, Apple could keep the App Store as is, for apps getting the Apple seal of approval, but also allow users to install apps from anywhere. That would be the ideal solution; after all, it's the user's phone, the user paid for it, and should be able to install whatever apps he wants to install. But I don't see that as likely; it violates Apple's central business model for the iPhone.

Another option would be to filter apps for technical reasons, but not for content. If your app is a security risk or unstable, then it gets blocked, but everything else goes. That's unlikely too; Steve Jobs reportedly wants to keep the App Store family-friendly. Civil libertarians chafe at those kinds of restrictions, but they're hardly new, they go back at least a century in America, and we as a society have managed to work around those restrictions to have free discourse on other subjects.

Still, even if the App Store continues to block adult content, it needs to grow up. Apple can continue to block porn and other graphic content, but it should explicitly allow political speech, which most definitely includes "defamation" of public figures. Stop treating your customers like babies, Apple, you're better than that.

(Also, would it kill you to answer e-mail every once in a while? As usual, Apple did not respond to a request for comment on this blog. And it's not just me, Apple is notoriously loath to talk to bloggers and journalists.)

Mitch Wagner is a freelance technology journalist and social media strategist. Follow him on Twitter: @MitchWagner.

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